A desire to share his love of bikes and to support the community set Brett Cotter on a path from
weekend bike enthusiast to creating one of New Zealand’s best loved short film festivals.
In 2015, Taupō’s ‘giant bicycle statue’ was vandalised. It was disappointing for the whole town, but especially the local cycling community who are hugely proud of Taupō’s reputation as a world-class location for mountain biking, road cycling and multi-sport. “The Big Bike Film Night started off as a bit of a garage project. I thought it could be a fun way to bring the community together to raise funds to restore the giant bike,” says Brett, Curator of the Big Bike Film Night. “There are so many great films about bikes out there, and I thought people would enjoy the opportunity to see these.”
Brett approached a number of film makers from around the world seeking out short films that
captured what bikes and cycling are about. The inaugural event was a success, selling out and raising funds to help restore the big bike.
In 2016, Brett decided to focus on the festival full-time and took the Big Bike Film Night to locations across New Zealand. In 2017, he staged the event at three cities in Australia and this year will hold 31 events there. Since its inception, there have been more than 350 Big Bike Film Night events held across New Zealand and Australia with over 43,000 people attending over the years. Brett notes that every year his goal is the same, “Find the best short cycling films from around the world and bring people together to watch them.”
“I have been humbled by the response to the events and the films,” says Brett. “The films are first and foremost human powered stories, so there is a really varied audience and not everyone attending is necessarily a bike enthusiast” The films themselves are varied, too. “While bikes are always part of the story - the conduit - the people, perspectives, locations, and themes featured are diverse,” says Brett. “Short film material is submitted from filmmakers all over the world as well as plenty of excellent kiwi films and documentaries.”
“One of the advantages of living in Taupō and running a business here is the support of our
wonderful community. Amplify’s help has been invaluable, offering advice, connecting me with
mentors and business advisors, and helping us to access to the government’s COVID-19 resurgence support package when the pandemic made things tough,” says Brett. He also credits Peter Smith, until recently the owner operator of Starlight Cinema, and Joel Corbett of Corbie Films, with providing integral support.
Building a stronger community is at the heart of what Brett is aiming to achieve with the Big Bike Film Night. “Sometimes you have to create what you want to be a part of,” says Brett. “I’m just a guy who loves bikes, and I’ve found a way to share that passion while bringing people together. I can’t believe what has been achieved so far and am excited by what’s ahead.”
Brett takes the show on the road in Australia from August to October. Taupō locals will need to wait until 2023 for their next chance to attend, but the message is clear – don’t hesitate to get your tickets when they become available, the Big Bike Film Night is bound to inspire. For more
information, please visit bigbikefilmnight.nz